Let's face it, there's very few of us out there who aren't into trucks and cars to one degree or another. For some street rods or hot rods are their focus, some are into muscle cars and drag racing, for others the lowrider scene is where their interests lie. But then there are folks like us who believe (rightly I might add) that they're all great, but there's nothing cooler than classic pickups.
Born and raised in East L.A. our pal Joe Luken was for most of his life an equal opportunity rodder-in other words, if it had wheels and an engine he was into it, and the lower, louder, and faster it was the more enthused he was (sound familiar?). In fact, Joe says some of his most fond memories are of cruising Whittier Boulevard with his older brother as he pointed out the year and make of countless customized cars, trucks, and choppers to young Joe. As time passed Joe drifted to two-wheeled rodding and spent years riding and modifying Harley's-that is, until his late nephew (who had been battling diabetes at the time) gave his uncle Joe his prized '55 F-100 project truck. Joe loved the styling of the F-100 and planned on getting around to its rodstoration as soon as he could, but the rather rough primered pickup project sat out in the yard while Joe's career as an electrical lineman consumed most of his waking hours. Unfortunately his nephew eventually succumbed to his diabetes and Joe took it upon himself to dive into the truck's rodstoration as a tribute to his young nephew's dream.
Joe dove into the project with renewed zeal and began by totally disassembling the pickup and getting to work on its foundation. He stripped the chassis and boxed the front section in preparation for the installation of a Total Cost Involved air ride IFS setup, and fabbed a custom trans crossmember and C-notches too. Once the frame was prepped, the IFS, a Total Cost Involved air ride equipped four-bar setup, and an 8-inch rearend were installed by Lee Gibson of Old Town Hot Rods in Lucerne Valley. Joe then added a CPP brake master and power booster to the mix, and plumbed the brake lines to a mix of front disc and rear drum brakes. Once the chassis assembly was complete a quartet of Wheel Vintique Gennie wheels wrapped in wide white radials were bolted up and the chassis lowered to the shop floor.
Joe chose a stout little 351 Windsor equipped with Edelbrock induction (an Air-Gap intake and 600-cfm carb), a pair of tri-Y tube headers, and a bunch of finned aluminum brightwork (from Mooneyes and Cal Custom) and backed it with a Turnbold-prepped, Gennie shifted, C4 automatic out of a '67 Mustang and a High Desert Driveline-fabbed driveshaft to complete the pickup's drivetrain.
With the main portion of the assembly completed Joe turned his attention to the pickup's sheetmetal. This phase was again tackled with the help of Lee Gibson at Old Town Hot Rods who not only made a slew of minor body mods like shaved door handles, a filled fuel filler, a raised diamond plate bed floor, and one-piece door glass but massaged the balance of the body back into pristine shape and prepped it for some fresh paint (applied by Mike Molina also of Old Town). Joe chose House of Kolor Tangelo Pearl for the final color and had SoCal striping pro Mike Schartel out of Hesperia to lay some lines on the truck for a bit of added eye appeal. Being a true-blue HD fan Joe didn't hesitate to add a bit of Harley styling to the mix as well. He used HD headlights and even a cool HD beer tap head as a shift knob just so he'd feel a bit more at home in the cab and out of the wind. Speaking of the shift knob, it sits right in the middle of a cool traditional-style interior that's outfitted with an ididit tilt column, a set of good-looking Dolphin gauges in a polished aluminum insert, a Lecarra steering wheel, and a bunch of Pearl White upholstery stitched up by the pros at Robbins Upholstery up in Victorville.